GymnasticsWOD, or: How to Stop Worrying and Teach Yourself Anything

by Sam Martin

If, as a coach, I could choose to assimilate the powers of  other coaches, Rogue-style, I would do so in this order:

  1. Phil Jackson
  2. Carl Paoli

The post on how Sacred Hoops changed my life is coming later. In the meantime, I’ll say this: Carl Paoli is pretty much my hero.

Inspire-a-gram. Photo credit: Carl Paoli

I went to coach Carl’s seminar back in January. I remember thinking at the time that $250 seemed like a lot for a day-long gymnastics seminar, but I’d heard that this guy was good, and I really dug what he said in a few videos that I’d watched with him and Kelly Starrett. Little did I know what I was in for.

That day (Saturday January 28th, 2012) was the day I became a coach. Carl started off with a 45-minute or so explanation of his philosophy on movement. It was like every “brilliant” thought I had ever had on the subject, but said so clearly and organized so intelligently that all I could do was nod and say, “yes!” It was like the Landmark Forum for coaches.

That day I watched as Carl coached people to breakthrough after breakthrough without breaking a sweat. When lunchtime came, I offered to take him to the local Whole Foods for some kale salad and chalk talk. I peppered the man with questions, shared stories, and tried to juice every last bit of knowledge I could from him. The second half was just as mind blowing as the first. Carl coached me to my first strict muscle up with one sentence. I had been looking at shadows on the cave wall; this dude was out handstand walking through the meadow.

When the day was over, I took his message to my people at CFLA. I’ve designed and delivered two movement workshops of my own, all preaching the Gospel of Carl. And guess what? The stuff works. My last workshop had three folks get their first muscle up, which is just one measure of the breakthroughs my students made.

I highly recommend going to Carl’s seminar if you get the chance–it will change your life. I highly recommend going to my workshop if you get the chance–I get money if you do. But here’s the thing: not only does Carl Paoli possess unmatched coaching ability–he GIVES IT AWAY FOR FREE.

His website, GymnasticsWOD, is the best source for coaching on the internet that I have seen. There are hundreds of progressions on there to teach yourself to do anything! I have learned a freestanding handstand pushup and straddle press to handstand by following his videos, and my planche hold is coming along. If you want to learn something that involves moving your body through space, go on there and look it up!

And Carl, if you’re reading this, thank you for being amazing. I love you. Not in a weird way, just in a one-man-loving-another-man-who-inspires-him way. Keep being great.